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The simile "as RIGHT as rain" is idiomatic in English. Is there an idiomatic equivalent for "wrong"? If so what is it? If not, any suggestions?

  • The idiom means something like, 'in a good condition, (often after having been in a less good state)'. idioms.thefreedictionary.com/right+as+rain Do you seek an idiom for 'in a poor state, (potentially having been in a better one)', or on that means 'incorrect'? – Spagirl Feb 22 '17 at 12:18
  • @Spagirl - the 'right' in the 'as right as rain' phrase seems to me to be akin to the use of right in the phrase 'God's in his heaven, all's right with the world' - the last line from the poem Pippa's Song by Robert Browning. It denotes an ideal state rather than a progression from an inferior state. I am looking for a notion of being in a state of stupendous 'wrongness' as opposed to 'badness'. – Donagh McCarthy Feb 22 '17 at 12:53
  • All the examples in the link I gave included a prior, inferior state and the Cambridge online Dictionary dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/be-as-right-as-rain gives 'to feel healthy or well again' (my emphasis). This may be a case of UK and other usage being at variance? – Spagirl Feb 22 '17 at 13:59
  • They aren't similes, but that's so wrong, just wrong, just so wrong and wrong on so many levels are used pretty popularly for a variety of "stupendously wrong" situations. I don't think they would be used to describe one's own state of well-being (or lack thereof), though, as right as rain often is. – 1006a Feb 22 '17 at 22:26
  • Well, people are having fun answering this question, but I don't think it's well posed. The phrase "as right as rain" has nothing to do with the opposite of "wrong." // Do you need it to have "as ... as" in it? If not, off base. If yes, "as wrong as it gets." – aparente001 Feb 23 '17 at 5:54
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If what you are looking for is an idiom for a state of ultimate wrongness, rather than a direct negative equivalent of 'Right as rain', then you might consider 'Wrong as wrong can be'. There is no simile involved, but it shares a similar structure and delivers the sense of an absolute state of wrongness which you are seeking.

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    Down voting 'should be reserved for extreme cases. It's not meant as a substitute for communication and editing.' english.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/vote-down I'd like to know what the extreme problem was with this answer, please. – Spagirl Feb 22 '17 at 15:56
  • Well, well... Somebody came through here and liberally spewed downvotes all about... Have an upvote on me. – pyobum Feb 24 '17 at 0:48
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    @Spagirl - I'm going to accept your answer. As a native speaker I don't know any better alternative so your answer 'as wrong as wrong can be' is as right as rain! – Donagh McCarthy Mar 2 '17 at 17:47
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Perhaps Wrong as two left shoes will fit your request:

Wrong as two left shoes

  • Being equally as wrong as having two left shoes and no right shoes; wrong to the extent of being senseless.

"They didn't have to kill him. They have Mace. I think this was as wrong as two left shoes."

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The earliest dated "as wrong as" simile I could find in U.S. sources was from a collection of similes listed in Rian James, "The Inky Way," in the Brooklyn [New York] Daily Eagle (February 9, 1930):

As wrong as an ambulance surgeon's diagnosis.

but that lacks the simplicity and rhythm needed to become a commonplace. Much more promising is this one from several online websites, including Encyclopedia.com:

As wrong as sin on Sunday.

But I also like the implication of this one from AskReddit:

As wrong as two left feet.

which is essentially the same answer that Hank offered earlier (his uses shoes instead of feet, but either way they aren't right).

Old, regional, and presumably obsolete, but nonetheless intriguing (because it contributes to an odd interpretation of a very familiar idiomatic phrase) is this one from John Hotten, A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words, second edition (1860):

As wrong as a bucket.

Hotten suggests its relevance in an entry for "kick the bucket":

KICK THE BUCKET, to die.—Norfolk. According to Forby, a metaphor taken from the descent of a well or mine, which is of course absurd. The Rev. E. S. Taylor supplies me with the following note from his Ms. additions to the work of the East-Anglian lexicographer:—

The allusion is to the way in which a slaughtered pig is hung up,—viz., by passing the ends of bent piece of wood behind the tendons of the hind legs, and so suspending it to a hook in a beam above. This piece of wood is locally termed a bucket, and so by a coarse metaphor the phrase came to signify to die. Compare the Norfolk phrase, "as wrong as a bucket."

I couldn't find any mention of "as wrong as a bucket," although Robert Forby, The Vocabulary of East-Anglia, volume 1 (1830) confirms the meaning of bucker ("sometimes pronounced Bucket") as being "A bent piece of wood somewhat like it [a hors's hind leg] in shape; particularly that on which a slaughtered animal is hung up, more generally called a gambrel."

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    very interesting answer and kind of justifies the question despite the opinions of some. I wonder if there are similes in other languages or dialects. My father (b. 1919) used to say "as wrong as Moll Belle" (questionable spelling) but I can't find anything for that. – Donagh McCarthy Mar 3 '17 at 16:41
  • @Donagh McCarthy: When I read your comment, I thought the phrase might be a mishearing of "as wrong as Ma Bell." "Ma Bell" was the personification of the Bell Telephone Company, which had a virtual monopoly on the telephone industry in much of the United States until the antitrust breakup of the system in 1982, so "as wrong as Ma Bell" would be an evocative simile for something huge and seemingly impervious to change. But an online discussion says "as wrong as Moll Bell" draws "a big pile" of Google search matches from Cork, Ireland. Intriguing! – Sven Yargs Mar 3 '17 at 17:07
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How about dead wrong?

Because if you are dead wrong you are absolutely in error- as wrong as wrong can be.

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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I see two problems with this question:

1) "Right" in the expression "right as rain" is not a relational opposite to "wrong."

2) There are an overabundance of "wrong" idiomatic similes (easily found with the help of a certain search engine that rhymes with stroogle).

The structure has been a creative template for all sorts of expressions. Here's a sampling:

as wrong as a three-dollar bill
as wrong as a Playboy magazine sitting on the pew of a Catholic church next to the hymnal (Sherry Riter)
"The official version of Watergate is as wrong as a Flat Earth Society pamphlet." - G. Gordon Liddy

For the best idiomatic simile that is a relational opposite to "right as rain" in meaning (without "wrong"), there is sick as a dog.

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"As bad as the itch" seems to be suitable.

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    I think you've misunderstood the use of this phrase. See goodreads.com/quotes/…: "“The itch for naming things is almost as bad as the itch for possessing things." – aparente001 Feb 23 '17 at 5:51
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If you are looking for a phrase which compares levels of wrongness 'wronger than wrong' is worth consideration. It is a term coined by Isaac Asimov in his book of essays The Relativity of Wrong.

A statement that equates two errors is wronger than wrong when one of the errors is clearly more wrong than the other. As Asimov put it:

When people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.

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